Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hillary Clinton's Margin of the Popular Vote

2,868,686

That is the number of popular votes that Hillary Clinton had over Donald Trump. It was a number that was 2.1% more of the popular vote than Donald Trump won.

That is a number which is larger than the population of 16 States and District of Columbia (Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana Delaware, South Dakota,    Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming). It is slightly less than the populations of 4 States: Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, and Utah). It is slightly more than the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming (2578472).

It's also a number which is larger than most of the 100 largest US Cities (Only NYC and LA have a larger population).

It's not an insignificant number, yet somehow Clinton lost with one of the highest margins of the popular vote because of the Electoral College and how it distorts the vote.

Monday, July 16, 2018

You don't need Russians to interfere or meddle or whatever.

The threat is real. There is unanimity of opinion in the intelligence community that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government undertook a coordinated effort to destabilize our election system. As the witnesses from the intelligence and law enforcement community testified, one of their primary objectives was to undermine Americans confidence and trust in their election system. We now live in a world where foreign governments wage war on our country not with guns and bombs, but by attempting to diminish Americans’ faith in our democratic institutions.
Source: The Hill: The truth about Russia, 'hacking' and the 2016 election

As I have been saying any serious investigation requires scrutinising US institutions. You have the Electoral College which is designed to be anti-democratic and the 2016 demonstrated how much it can deviate from the popular vote. But don't think I am being a "snowflake" since FairVote decided to look at the 2008 election for a “worst case scenario” of just how few popular votes Barack Obama really needed to earn a majority of the vote in the Electoral College.  They didn’t change John McCain’s votes, but eliminated all the “unnecessary” votes earned by Obama – meaning all of his votes in states he didn’t’ need to win and any “surplus” votes earned in states he wins (meaning any votes beyond one more than McCain).
 President Obama could have defeated Sen. John McCain in the Electoral College with as few as 24,781,169 popular votes despite McCain earning 59,479,469 votes. In other words, he could have won even while losing the popular vote by 69% to 29% (with 2% for other).

Looking only at states that he actually won, Obama could have carried enough states to earn 270 electoral votes with just 26,721,494 votes – meaning with a popular vote defeat by 68% to 30%.
 Source: http://www.fairvote.org/electoral-college-distortions-winner-could-lose-popular-vote-by-a-landslide

The leaked DNC emails were no real revelation to be quite honest since most people suspected what was in them. They were a confirmation of people's distrust. It was the icing on the DNC's pushing of Hillary Clinton and disdain for people who weren't "true democrats".  As I said, it was shit like that that made me leave the democratic party.

Even more important is the money in US politics. The primary system is long and drawn out to keep people who don't have big bucks backing them. On the other hand, someone like Donald Trump was able to game the system to get anywhere from $2 to $5 Billion in free, "earned" media attention. Which was also given to him by anyone who showed outrage at Trump's antics (figure includes social media). I remember in 1980 when US Stations couldn't show "Bedtime for Bonzo" because it would have given Reagan free coverage.

No Russian help needed to get people disgusted with US politics: the duopoly does a wonderful job on its own.


Ultimately, it is the electoral college, closed primaries, gerrymandering, uncontested elections, big money, and pretty much the whole election circus that causes the results that people want to attribute to the Russians.

So I find that the real culprits are home grown. And that is where all the energy should be directed, not de minimis "foreign meddling".  Simply stated, if the "Russian Objective" is to destroy confidence in "US democratic institutions", then I see any "Russian activities" as being de minimis compared to those of the DNC, Cambridge Analytica/Robert Mercer, and US media, who spent far more money than the Russians are alleged to have spent for destroying confidence in US Democracy.
 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

An open letter to Robert Mueller regarding the 2016 Presidential Election Investigation

OK, let's begin this with the stipulation that the DNC e-mails in question are authentic. It was revealed by WikiLeaks emails from the DNC hack that under the guidance of the now scandal-ridden former chairperson of the DNC, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the party leadership had shown high levels of favourability towards Hillary Clinton and that they quashed the campaign of Bernie Sanders to make sure she won the nomination.

Sometimes a criminal investigation finds more criminal activity than what was originally alleged. In this case, the e-mails show democratic party collusion to promote Hillary Clinton as well as sabotage Bernie Sanders' campaign. There was a class action suit about this which went nowhere, despite all the misconduct of the DNC being a given.


I believe there have been allegations of vote suppression, which I believe is an offence. Some of the e-mails in question show the DNC staff in damage control over allegations from the Sanders campaign, when a report—corroborated by a Politico—revealed the DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats. Regardless of the fundraising tactics, because both major campaigns didn’t agree to use the joint fundraising committee super-PAC with the DNC, the DNC should have recused itself from participating with just the Clinton campaign.

The Associated Press called the Democratic primary races in six states for Hillary Clinton on Monday night, based on its survey of superdelegates. CNN confirmed the count a few hours after that, based on the network's criteria, then declared that it had broken the story. This is one of the things that threw the election.

Even more concerning is that an email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party bear direct responsibility for making Trump the Republican candidate. The email describes using a "pied piper" strategy, the Clinton campaign proposed intentionally cultivating extreme right-wing presidential candidates, hoping to turn them into the new "mainstream of the Republican Party" in order to try to increase Clinton's chances of winning.The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee called for using far-right candidates "as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right." Clinton's camp insisted that Trump and other extremists should be "elevated" to "leaders of the pack" and media outlets should be told to "take them seriousl

You need to broaden the scope of your investigation to include the DNC misconduct shown in these e-mails if you want to avoid any allegations that your investigation is a political witch hunt. Failure to do so leaves this investigation wide open to those charges.

As someone who voted for Bernie Sanders and then abandoned the Democratic Party to go back to being independent, I can say that the actions of the Democratic Party were far more damaging to it than any purported "Russian Influence".

I know there are a lot of people who buy into the "Russians did it", probably the way they swallowed that the Iraqis had WMD. I didn't . Likewise I do not believe for one second that any Russian activity would rise to the level of misconduct demonstrated by the DNC. And it was the DNC misconduct which cost the election.

And it was Clinton's piss poor campaign and the Electoral College that cost her the election, not the Russians. Address that or your investigation is crap.

See also:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Oh, no, not more Russians and E-mails

OK, the first question everybody should be asking is "are these authentic, DNC internal messages?" I think it's pretty much taken as given that these are. That means Russian interference is pretty meaningless. That's because these e-mails kill the democratic party by showing that it was biased against Sanders which went against party bylaws.

On the other hand, nothing in these e-mails comes as a revelation if you happened to be a Sanders supporter. Glenn Greenwald pretty much sums up the situation:
“When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely fucked for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete fucking disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”
The issue is that both parties stink and that Hillary basically was her own worst enemy. That was pretty much what the leaked e-mails confirmed. It wasn't anything that most people didn't already know.

And I am going with it was an internal DNC leak since it seems the evidence pointing to it being a Russian is that there is evidence a Russian VPN was used.

Seriously? People use VPNs to HIDE their location, not broadcast it. Toss in any legit VPN host will give the actual location if there is criminal investigation. Give me the actual location, not a VPN IP address.

But let's get into who the messenger is: Robert Mueller. A dude to claimed that Iraq had WMD!

Gimme a break. I call BS then and I'm calling BS now.

Unless Mueller is also investigating the DNC and what the leaked e-mails revealed, then this investigation is partisan bullshit.

After all, no one is denying the e-mails were actual DNC internal communications.

And it was DNC misconduct that made me realise that I was wasting my vote by supporting a duopoly candidate.

Unless this investigation starts looking at the internal US causes of why Trump became president, this is a waste of time. The obvious cause was the electoral college, yet I am hearing squat about addressing that issue.


See also:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Death of Originalism

I have to comment about Brett Kavanaugh and his judicial philosophy, which he calls "originalist" I understand this approach is to interpret the Constitution's meaning as stable from the time of enactment, which can be changed only by the steps set out in Article Five.  That means altering the Constitution requires an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification.

Well, if he really wants to be an originalist and follow the US Constitution AS WRITTEN, then he can't rule on the constitutionality of legislation: as that is not an enumerated role for the Supreme Court.

Instead, that comes from the case of Marbury v Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Marbury also says that no clause in the Constitution is without meaning, which means that Heller and McDonald are BS since they ignore a clause in the Second Amendment. I would add for good measure that the previous SCOTUS Second Amendment cases (Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174) Made it clear that the Second Amendment applied to the Militia, or current National Guard.

Miller contradicts the findings of the Heller and McDonald decisions saying:

"With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."  

Justice William O Douglas, who was on the court when Miller was decided, gave a summary of that case in his dissent to Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972):

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." Id. at 307 U. S. 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, "must be interpreted and applied" with the view of maintaining a "militia."

According how the originalists claim their method of interpreting the constitution, a change from the Second Amendment applying to the Militia to allow for personal possession of firearms in the home would require and amendment: not occur through judicial fiat.

I would also add that the Constitution makes clear that it deals with matters of the common defence in the preamble and is silent on self-defence. Any first year law student knows that when a legal document is silent on an issue that that issue is not covered. There are a few other accepted rules of statutory interpretation which pretty much rule out that self-defence is addressed in the US Constitution and that the Second Amendment should be extended to allow for deadly weapons to be used for that purpose.

This adds in that the concept of self-defence in traditional common law is a mitigation, not an excuse. The black letter common law for this is:
Self-defence is a legal doctrine which says that a person may use reasonable force in the defence of themself or another.

Reasonable force is not in the mind of the person claiming self-defence, but in the finder of fact's (jury or judge) opinion. But the rule is pretty much that deadly force is NOT allowed unless there are extreme circumstances.


This might be the time to push this issue. No matter what, I would like an answer on the matter of how an "originalist" can somehow rule on constitutionality since that is not found in the text of the Constitution.

Even more importantly, an Originalist should not go against precedent and the Constitution as written. I am not sure how one would handle overturning a law for unconstitutionality since that is not a role given to the Supreme Court in the Constitution. Instead, it is found in custom.

On the other hand, now might be the time to find out how exactly a justice would handle this dilemma if they claim that they obey the constitution as written and any real change requires an amendment.